Here’s a Thought for Dec. 8

“Christ Jesus, His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose wounds we are healed.” (I Peter 2:24)

It was during the Christmastide of 1975 in East Germany, that I took notice that the Christmas trees both in the churches and in private homes were decorated with electric white candles. I was told that this custom dates back to when Christmas trees were decorated with only wax candles, which symbolized the Christ Child, who is the eternal light within our world of death and spiritual darkness. This is and was the reason Christians brought them into their homes.

We were told that the first person to bring a Christmas tree into a house in the way we know it today was the Church Reformer Martin Luther back in the 16th century. This event took place one night prior to Christmas Eve; Luther was walking through the forest as he looked up to see the stars shining through the snow covered tree branches. This sight was so inspiring and beautiful that he went home with a freshly chopped down evergreen tree and attached wax candles on its branches.

Luther explained this to his wife and family that this wintry sight reminded him of the Gospel account of the birth of the Christ Child, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth as a helpless infant to be our Savior that first Christmas event.

Recently, after reading a sermon written by the Rev. J. Vernon McGee titled: “The Cross: God’s Christmas Tree.” I now realize as we joyfully sing the Christmas carol: “O Tannenbaum”…O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree how faithful is your color…So fresh and green in summer’s breeze, still deeply green through winter’s freeze, O Christmas tree…how faithful is your color.” It’s proclaiming the love and grace of the Christmas Gospel message which doesn’t change. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

Similarly, as we sing the fifth stanza of this carol:” O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, your candles shine out brightly! Each branch does hold its tiny light That makes each gift to sparkle bright. O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, your candles shine out brightly! Reminding us of the sevenfold spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are wisdom, understanding, counsel, patience, knowledge, piety, and fear (respect) of the Lord together with the gift of saving faith given to us through Word and sacraments.

In addition, you and I receive the spiritual fruits of the Holy Spirit from God’s Christmas Tree, they are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness in our daily lives.

Indeed, the Cross is God’s Christmas tree with its gifts to the world. For the cross of Christ Crucified is the Tree of Life. From this Tree we receive all the blessings of the forgiveness of sins, salvation and eternal life.

During this Advent season and as we approach Christmastide; God our heavenly Father invites all people to freely eat of its pure and ever living fruit so that they too mighty enjoy such eternal blessings.

The marvel of all marvels is that these spiritual blessings and gifts are only a portion of the gifts under God’s Christmas Tree — Christ’s cross. So that the Apostle Paul writes: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3)

Chopp is a chaplain emeritus, MDiv, BCC, from Marshall